A fascinating and inspirational investigation into the creative and entrepreneurial process. What drives some people to create something from nothing? Is it ambition, the need for self-fulfillment? Is it about money, power, or even genes? Or, is there a mood of the time that encourages people, and can anyone do it? The world needs new ideas, new products, new kinds of associations and institutions, new initiatives, art and designs. But these new things seldom come from established organizations. They come from individuals -- Charles Handy calls them the New Alchemists, and he has talked to a range of extraordinary people -- from Trevor Baylis and Richard Branson to Jane Tewson and Terence Conran -- to hear from them the secret to turning basic ideas into creative gold. Elizabeth Handy has used her new style of composite portraits to highlight aspects of all the different alchemists in their particular environments. "From the Trade Paperback edition."
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This work is an examination in words and pictures of the way particular individuals, like Anita Roddick (Body Shop), Tim Waterstone (Waterstones) or Charles Dunstone (Carphone Warehouse) have created businesses/careers from nothing but their own drive and talent.Review:
Charles Handy is just about the only modern management thinker worth reading. His books are wise, entertaining and always contain a strong dose of common sense. This one suggests that "perhaps we are all alchemists at heart. If so, we need to know what makes it real for some and not for others." Which just about sums the book up and captures the wise undercurrent throughout.
The New Alchemists is a series of interviews with people who have made something out of nothing. It is enhanced by Elizabeth Handy's own photography which captures each interviewee in their own environment. So we have an at-home and relaxed Richard Branson having a bet with the author that in three years time Virgin will be "by far the best railway", Robert Ayling from British Airways, Terence Conran and Charles Dunstone (Carphone Warehouse). Each short piece offers interesting insights into events that changed their lives and what makes them tick.
But perhaps the most interesting parts are the summary chapters with some useful generalisations about the causes of success and some of the pieces on lesser-known folk. Look out for Dee Dawson who set up the first clinic for people with anorexia and Joanne McFarlane thinking big but still working from home with her silk scarf business.
This book is aimed at anyone with an interest in people and management. It is likely to make you consider your own motivations and just why some people make things happen. It seems it's something to do with motivation, love and doggedness. --Steve Morris
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